A wireless earpiece is a miniature, cordless speaker that fits on or inside the ear, receiving signals from a detached transmitter. The detached transmitter might be a cell phone with integrated Bluetooth networking technology, or a Bluetooth adapter for use in a laptop in lieu of built-in speakers. A covert wireless earpiece receives signals from a walkie-talkie type transmitter via a pocket receiver that relays data to the earpiece.
In most cases when people refer to a wireless earpiece, they are referring to a small gadget that sits on one ear via an ear clip. The wireless earpiece consists of a tiny mono speaker and condensed microphone. The microphone is sometimes perched at the end of a small arm that reaches around the cheek. The device also houses a transmitter and receiver to send and receive signals from a paired cell phone so that the user can place and answer calls hands-free. These products are popular for driving but can also be used in other situations, such as at the office or while exercising.
A wireless earpiece communicates with a cell phone through Bluetooth technology, ergo the phone must be Bluetooth enabled or be fitted with a Bluetooth adapter. Bluetooth uses radio frequency (RF) waves to send signals across short distances of less than 30 feet (9.14m), creating a personal area network(PAN). Once the wireless earpiece and cell phone have been paired via Bluetooth, one can control basic functions of the phone through voice commands, allowing use of the phone without handling it. Bluetooth networking does not require line of sight, so the phone can be in a purse, pocket, the glove box, or laying nearby.
A wireless earpiece with microphone can also be paired with a laptop to bypass the computer’s built-in speakers and microphone. Wireless headsets are recommended for using Voice Over IP (VOIP) technologies like Skype. VOIP services allow subscribers to place phone calls using the Internet, rather than a telco service. Calls are free and many VOIP services offer added bonuses like free conference calling and video calling. A wireless headset should cut down on echo created by feedback, and make communications more pleasant.
A one-way covert wireless earpiece is sometimes referred to as a “spy earpiece.” It is a small device that sits inside the ear, making it nearly unnoticeable. The receiver is separate and might be kept in a wallet or pocket. The transmitter is a walkie-talkie type radio, from which commands can be issued to those in the field. Range varies according to model, with some units advertising 3000 feet (914m) or about half a mile. In addition to the receiver, two-way earpieces feature a transmitter and microphone, sometimes clipped inside the sleeve.
Wireless headphones are also popular products, though an earpiece typically refers to a mono system. Wireless headphones use either RF or infrared technology to communicate with a transmitter that is wired directly to the sound source.